Should I use a calculator on the SAT?

May 10, 2010 at 3:00 am | Posted in SAT Advice | Leave a comment

According to research performed by College Board, test scores on math sections are on average higher when a calculator is used on approximately a third to a half of the questions, than when a calculator is used more or less frequently. However, regression testing and the addition of more variables shows this as a classic case of correlation and not causation between calculator usage and higher test scores.

Intuitively, their research also found that students relying more on calculators struggled more often to finish their sections in the allotted time. As such, we recommend using a calculator where necessary and avoiding usage on conceptual based questions or questions that require less complex computations. The best way to understand whether a calculator is needed, is to know the intent of the question prior to solving. Additionally, the type of calculator should also be factored into the decision. For example, if you’ve never used a graphing calculator, then you may want to use a scientific calculator.

Reference: http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/pdf/rn16_10767.pdf

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